Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 28 October

by Fran Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:25:17 PM EST

On this date in history:

1903 - Evelyn Waugh, a British writer, best known for darkly humorous and satirical novels, was born. (d. 1966)

More here and here


Welcome to the European Salon!

This Salon is open for discussions, exchange, and gossip and just plain socializing all day long. So please enter!

The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

EUROPE - is the place for anything to do with Europe.

WORLD - here you can add the links to topics concerning the rest of the World.

THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER - is the place for everything from environment to health to curiosa.

KLATSCH - if you like gossip, this is the place. But you can also use this place as an Open Thread until the one in the Evening opens.

SPECIAL FOCUS - will be up only for special events and topics, like elections or other stuff.

I hope you will find this place inspiring - of course meaning the inspiration gained here to show up in interesting diaries. :-)

There is just one favor I would like to ask you - please do NOT click on "Post a Comment", as this will put the link or your comment out of context at the bottom of the page.

Actually, there is another favor I would like to ask you - please, enjoy yourself and have fun at this place!

Display:
EUROPE
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:26:26 PM EST
Number of babies born in prison soars - Home News, UK - The Independent

The number of children born behind bars has almost doubled since Labour came to power, with new figures showing women prisoners currently giving birth at nearly four a week.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 283 children were born in prisons in England and Wales between April 2005 and July this year, an average of 1.7 a week. But 49 babies were born between April and the beginning of July this year alone, almost four a week, meaning the 2008 total could reach nearly 200 if births continue at the same rate, more than double the 64 prison births recorded in 1995-96 before Labour came to power.

Prison reformers demanded that women should be locked up only in extreme circumstances, saying that keeping mothers and young babies in prison can harm young children and does nothing to cut crime.

The number of women in jail has nearly doubled in the past decade and stands at more than 4,500. Most women are in for non-violent offences, with about a third jailed for theft or handling stolen goods; in 2006, nearly two-thirds served less than six months.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:33:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Polish summit row heats up afresh - EUobserver

Bickering over who should represent Poland at the intergovernmental level threatens to spill over into a second EU summit, after the political party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he will stay home on 7 November if the president goes to Brussels.

"If the president insists, the premier won't go. Let the president put forward Poland's position on the [financial] crisis alone," a senior member of Mr Tusk's liberal Civic Platform party told Polish newspaper Dziennik on Sunday.

Mr Tusk (l) and Mr Kaczynski saw the last summit dominated by coverage of who used which plane to fly to Brussels

"The president has already confirmed his plans. He's spoken with the French [EU presidency]. From what we hear, there are no problems to have two chairs," said Adam Bielan, a spokesman for President Lech Kaczynski's conservative Law and Justice faction.

The two leaders both turned up for the last EU summit on 15 October, with an angry Mr Tusk forced at times to send away his foreign minister and finance minister from the top table to let the president take one of Poland's official seats.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK defence minister supports EU army - EUobserver

The freshly appointed UK defence secretary has publicly supported the idea of a European army, a key ambition of the French EU presidency.

Speaking to the country's Sunday Times newspaper yesterday (26 October), John Hutton, who took on the defence portfolio on 3 October, was asked about the prospects for an EU force.

UK defence secretary Hutton is supportive of French designs for an EU army

He said: "I think we've got to be pragmatic about those things. I think that's perfectly sensible. France is one of our closest allies, and the French believe very strongly in this type of role. If we can support it, we should."

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose country currently chairs the EU's six-month rotating presidency, wants the bloc's existing military framework to have a new headquarters and each member state to commit 1,500 troops to rapid reaction forces.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Czech Republic rejects EU villain role - EUobserver

The Czech Republic is being unfairly painted as an EU villain ahead of its presidency next year, Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said as the country gears up to take over the EU chair in January.

The Czech Republic's reputation as a highly eurosceptic country is "false," Mr Schwarzenberg told French daily Le Monde in an interview published on Saturday (25 October).

Mr Schwarzenberg (l) shaking hands with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner

"We are not more eurosceptic that other countries in Europe, and I regret that we are being presented as the bad [characters] in the play," he said.

Referring to the country's outspoken EU-hostile president, Vaclav Klaus, the diplomat underlined he "has his own opinions," but added that "it is the government that forms foreign and European policy."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I pointed this out several times: Klaus is one thing, the government another. Schwarzenberg is very Europhile himself.

On the other hand, if Klaus succeeds in orchestrating a coup to replace unpopular PM Topolánek without snap elections, the government may become more Eurosceptic.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How Merkel Lost Her Mojo: Financial Crisis Exposes German Leader's Weaknesses - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The financial crisis and the threat of recession are revealing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's weaknesses and could contribute to a dramatic change in her party's prospects in next year's election. The Social Democrats, sensing an opportunity, are already planning their attack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had not seemed quite this alone for some time as she stood posing for a photograph surrounded by the 16 male governors of Germany's states. The men, smiling their politicians' smiles, look more grim than friendly, while Merkel's smile seems more tortured than anything else.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:38:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Muslim Integration : Why No One Protested against Germany's Biggest Mosque - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The biggest mosque in Germany opened in the city of Duisburg on Sunday and has already become a symbol of successful integration. Unlike other mosque projects in Germany, there was virtually no protest from the local community.

The tent next to the mosque in the Marxloh district of Duisburg, an industrial and mining town in the Ruhr region of Germany, can accommodate 3,500 people but it wasn't big enough for the crowd that turned out on Sunday.

Thousands of Duisburg citizens had to stand outside to witness this historic day on a giant public viewing screen. The biggest mosque in Germany has been opened and it includes a meeting center for the whole district -- an unprecedented project in Germany.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a very pleasant story.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Muslim Integration : Why No One Protested against Germany's Biggest Mosque - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Why did everything pass off so smoothly in Marxloh? Is it because the 34-meter minaret is only half as high as the spire of the local Catholic church? Or because the Islamic community decided from the start to do without the muezzin call?

Those could be two symbolic issues that contributed to the success. But far more important is the simple fact that the people of Marxloh sat down and talked to each other. They talked openly without fear or prejudice, and without inhibitions.

<...>

"We stand by one another, our generation is ready to take over responsibilities," [press spokesman Mustafa Kücük] says. And because his generation believed that a building like that needed support from the whole community, it set up a panel to allow the whole district to discuss the project.

The panel also included Catholic priest Michael Kemper. His church, St. Peter's, is just 300 meters away from the mosque. "I was in favor of building the mosque from the start," said Kemper. "After all, it's a house of God."

The priest praised the friendly relations with the Muslim community. Many Muslim children visit the Catholic kindergarten, and Catholics and Muslims visit each other's festivals.

What an amazing and unexpected turn of good news.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:56:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did everything pass off so smoothly in Marxloh? Is it because the 34-meter minaret is only half as high as the spire of the local Catholic church? Or because the Islamic community decided from the start to do without the muezzin call?

Lemme highlight the underlying assumption behind these rhetorical questions: that integration is the 'job' of immigrants (only).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 01:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i wonder of christian churches have bells to call the faithful in muslim countries...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Video: British talks with Syria in disarray after US military raid - Times Online

Britain and Syria cancelled a planned joint press conference of their foreign ministers in London today as the fall-out continued over an American military raid into Syrian territory that left eight civilians dead.

The attack threatens to overshadow what was a long-planned visit to London by Walid Muallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister, aimed at repairing the two countries' rocky relationship under the leadership of Tony Blair.

Damascus has been incensed by the attack, which Washington has yet to comment on. David Miliband had hoped to capitalise on Syria's desire for stronger ties with the West to persuade it towards a more active role in the search for Middle Eastern peace. But talks today will inevitably be dominated by Syrian protest over the American military action.

A statement from the Foreign Office said that British and Syrian officials "have agreed that it would not be appropriate to hold a formal press conference as planned." The Syrian Embassy, however, confirmed that Mr Muallem would go ahead with a solo briefing at which he was expected to denounce the incursion.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that explains the attack.
by det on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:23:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Referencing Fran's story from above...

France is one of our closest allies

and, it would seem, the only one the British should trust.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nato officers rent villa owned by Naples Mafia boss Antonio Iovine - Times Online

American Nato officers have been renting a villa near Naples for years that belongs, indirectly, to Antonio Iovine, a clan chieftain of the Camorra, the Neapolitan Mafia.

Mr Iovine, 44, nicknamed "o'ninno" -- the baby -- because of his small stature, is wanted for murder and other crimes, and is listed among the 30 most dangerous criminals in Italy. He has been on the run for 12 years.

According to an investigation that was published in Corriere della Sera yesterday the villa of Mr Iovine may be only the tip of an iceberg. Italian police sources suggested that there were scores of similar cases in the Naples area of Nato service personnel living in houses that were owned by the Camorra. There are several Nato facilities in the area, notably a US telecommunications centre in Bagnoli and the US Air Force base at Capodichino.

"It's ludicrous, isn't it? The coffers of Nato, to which Italy also contributes, are helping to fill the coffers of the Camorra," Franco Roberti, the co-ordinator of the local anti-Mafia bureau, said.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:41:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Georgia's PM fired by president

President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia has announced that he is replacing his prime minister.

"We took a joint decision with Lado Gurgenidze that he will no longer serve as prime minister," the president told a meeting of MPs.

He did not say why the decision was made. It is not clear if it was linked to Georgia's war with Russia in August.

Mr Saakashvili said he was promoting Georgia's ambassador to Turkey, Grigol Mgaloblishvili, to prime minister.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:43:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO Begins Anti-Piracy Mission as Experts Question Plausability | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
The EU on Monday, Oct. 27 welcomed a ceasefire deal in Somalia as NATO successfully completed its first anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast. But experts questioned the current international efforts to combat piracy.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the importance of cooperation between the two Brussels-based institutions during a regular meeting of ambassadors at the alliance's headquarters.

One area in which the two organizations are working together is in the fight against pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden.

While the EU's own operations are to begin shortly, de Hoop Scheffer announced that NATO had just completed its first anti-piracy mission by escorting a cargo ship delivering supplies to the African Union Mission to Somalia.

An Italian destroyer as well as British and Greek frigates arrived in the Gulf of Aden last week as the front guard of NATO's anti-piracy Operation Allied Provider.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:44:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DAILY NATION - Threat to weapons in hijacked ship drama

Weapons in the Ukrainian ship hijacked in Somalia waters risk being dumped at sea after the ship owners offered to pay ransom for the vessel and its crew.

The owners, Tomex Team, reportedly told the pirates that they were free to do whatever they wanted with the tanks and other weapons worth Sh2.6 billion ($35 million).

According to reports, the message said the pirates were at "liberty to destroy or throw the weapons into the sea" if they deemed it fit.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commission Eyes Smoking Ban in All EU Bars, Restaurants | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
The European Commission wants to ban smoking in bars and restaurants across the European Union, officials in Brussels said Monday, Oct. 27.

However, discussions on a smoking ban in all of the member states' workplaces are still at the preliminary stage, meaning any new rules are unlikely to be implemented before 2010.

"Clearly one of the areas which we would like to see covered (by the ban) is bars, restaurants and pubs, which are enclosed spaces where workers on a daily basis are exposed to passive smoking and to the consequences that passive smoking has on their own health and safety," said Chantal Hughes, spokeswoman of EU employment commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

Smoking bans currently differ widely across the EU. While Ireland was the first EU country to make its pubs and restaurants smoke-free, puffing cigarettes is still allowed in some pubs in Germany and Belgium. And smoking is still common in both bars and restaurants in central and Eastern European countries like Hungary and Romania.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear that here and to the East from here, this will be sabotaged like prior smoking bans.

Restaurant owners' idea of non-smoker area was to just designate half of a room as such. In workplaces, the law was followed by placing "Smoking area" tables everywhere where smokers assembled -- typically, hallways from where smoke creeps into rooms...

My own office is next to the staircase, with no separating door for the alley as on the two floors below. And the designated smoking area for the two floors below is of course the staircase...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany extends EU welcome to Uzbek spy chief - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Germany last week hosted Uzbekistan's powerful security chief, Rustam Inoyatov, despite his links to the 2005 Andijan massacre and the jailing, also last week, of a prominent human rights activist.

Mr Inoyatov flew to Germany on 23 October for official business as part of a delegation from Uzbekistan's National Security Service (SNB), and was still in Germany on 25 October.

A passenger jet in Uzbekistan. German authorities declined to confirm or deny the NGO reports

His trip was confirmed by NGOs Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute. The German interior ministry - responsible for security - denied holding any meetings with the SNB chief. The German embassy in Tashkent and the German secret service, the BND, declined to comment.

The trip was within the letter of EU law. Mr Inoyatov is one of eight names on an EU visa ban list, which was temporarily suspended in April and will permanently expire in November in line with an EU foreign ministers decision of 13 October.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Taking the kids to school by car is dangerous
Dutch parents increasingly take their children to school by car. This makes the roads around schools less safe - and when it's time for them to go it alone, these kids have difficulty in coping with traffic.

Working mums Rebecca Verwey and Debbie Molier are standing on the square that separates three primary schools in a large new housing development Ypenburg in The Hague. Parents that drive their kids to schools? They do not have a good word to say about them. "They drive up too fast, open car doors without looking and in the mornings they park on the pavement to be as close to the school entrance as possible," Verwey says.

In the northern province of Groningen, councillors have had enough and are planning to ban parents from taking their children to school by car. And primary schools in the southern town of Gorinchem have already imposed a one-day ban "to make parents think".

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 04:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another strange Central European crime story met a bizzarre end.

In 1996, Robert Remiás, a witness in the case of a botched action by the Slovakian secret service against the country's President (they kdnapped his son, made him drunk, and wanted Austrian police to catch him for drunken driving) was blown up in a car bomb. Later investigators found ties to the Slovakian mafia.

Ahead of the 1998 elections in Hungary, a series of bombs went up  at the homes of politicians in Budapest. The same year, there were mafia executions, too -- the worst of them a car bomb against a police informant also killing three bystanders (the first mafia hit job with 'collateral damage').

In all of these cases, investigators followed trails to the same organisator: a certain Jozef Rohác, a mafioso with links to the Mečiar-era secret service.

However, Rohác disappeared. But in the early morning of last Sunday, he was caught by Czech police in Prague -- for drunken driving... It took them 10 hours to get the identity of the man.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your use of "mafioso" to describe Rohác intrigues me. Do you know anything about his eventual connections with Italian criminal organizations or the presence in Hungary of Italian mafias?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I may not be precise about English usage, but in Hungarian (as well as German, and Slovakian from what I saw), "mafioso" is today used as a general term for someone involved in organised crime. (Also as in: "Ukrainian mafia", "Kosovarian mafia", "beggar mafia".)

I'm not aware of the presence of Italian criminal organisations in the region, but I'm certain that the locally dominant organisations had connections. In fact, one you may be aware of: Semion Mogilevic. He was (is?) a godfather of the Ukrainian mafia, and was mentioned in the Litvinenko case. For long years, he resided in Budapest, with authorities unable to find any evidence against him, but then got help from the FBI, so Mogilevic just left. (Already before the mess in Naples.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am behind the news!!! Via Wikipedia I find Russian authorities arrested him for tax evasion in January this year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FWIW, "mafioso" has become a term used to refer to almost anyone involved in organized crime.  Consider it one of your country's contributions to the English language! ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:42:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPECIAL FOCUS - Always the Finances
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:27:14 PM EST
BBC NEWS | UK | Money music: Credit crunch song

A Swindon musician has become a hit on the internet after writing a song about the credit crunch.

Alex Yeoman wrote and filmed a video under the name Antan Debt and has now had hundreds of thousands of hits online.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Credit crisis slows Poland and other emerging markets - International Herald Tribune

WARSAW: Poles were jolted last week by the sudden discovery that they were not immune to the financial crisis contagion rippling across the globe. The plunging stock market here and the drastic weakening of the Polish currency proved, as in so many corners of the fast-growing developing world, how wrong they were.

The go-go atmosphere in Poland has abruptly stilled to a cautious wait-and-see. Developers across the country have halted building projects for thousands of apartments as banks have grown stingy with lending. The boomtown energy here has been replaced by nervous eyeing of the once powerful zloty, as it retreats in value against the dollar and the euro.

The daily newspaper Dziennik summed up the mood on Friday with a front-page headline, "Welcome to the Tough Times." In a country that seemed to be on the fast track to full membership in the Western club, the question on everyone's lips is, "Why us?"

Emerging markets that seemed healthy, even thriving, barely a month ago, are beginning to find themselves caught in the worldwide panic. This sharp turn has caught even the local financial guardians and experts by surprise, as they have clung to their indicators of fundamental economic soundness, while forgetting that capital stampedes rarely tarry for fine distinctions.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Europe, crisis revives old memories - International Herald Tribune

"I haven't forgotten history," says Gert Heinz, a tax adviser in Munich. "If you depend on paper money you can lose everything. We've learned that the hard way after two world wars."

So when Chancellor Angela Merkel went on television recently to tell Germans that their bank accounts were safe, Heinz, who at 68 still remembers the rows of canned food that his mother hoarded in the attic, decided he would rather be safe than sorry.

He converted another chunk of his savings into gold and stocked up on a six-month supply of rice, sugar, flour and a special brand of milk powder that lasts for half a century.

Heinz may be an extreme example, but he is not alone among Europeans who are looking for ways to protect themselves in the face of a financial storm that - at least so far - has affected them much less directly than it has many Americans. Indeed, his reaction reflects the history of a Continent that has weathered wars, revolutions and financial crises over the centuries, burnishing national convictions that are very different from those in the United States.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Business | IMF European financial aid hailed

A bank which provides investment to Eastern Europe has welcomed a decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Ukraine and Hungary.

The IMF is to offer a $16.5bn (£10.4bn) loan to Ukraine and has agreed an as yet undisclosed package with Hungary.

"I think that is a very helpful role of the IMF," Erik Berglof at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) told BBC News.

Hungary's currency has gone up slightly on Monday against the euro.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:51:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firms still setting aside billions for bonuses - International Herald Tribune

NEW YORK: Five straight quarters of losses and a 70 percent slide in its stock this year have not stopped Merrill Lynch from allocating about $6.7 billion to pay bonuses.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, both still on track for profitable years, have set aside about $13 billion for bonuses after three quarters, down 28 percent from a year ago. Even some employees at Lehman Brothers, which declared the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history last month, will get the same bonus they received a year ago.

The worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression, a $700 billion bailout, public outcry over excessive pay and the demise of three of the biggest securities firms will not deter Wall Street from offering year-end rewards to employees, compensation experts say.

"Critical producers and critical managers will be retained with the same bonus they had last year," said Robert Sloan, head of U.S. financial-services recruiting at Egon Zehnder International, an executive-search firm in New York. "The others will see sharp cuts."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forecasters Race to Call the Bottom to the Market

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Published: October 26, 2008, NYT

How low can the markets go? Some analysts are getting attention with pessimistic predictions, even if ill-founded.

Financial forecasters are in a race to call the bottom to the bear market. And just as on the way up, when analysts competed for attention with their forecasts of bigger and bigger gains, the financial pundit class now seems compelled to out-gloom the next guy.

"To make a crazy forecast today is not crazy," said Owen Lamont, a former professor at Yale who has studied economic forecasting. "It's not crazy to predict the Dow is going to 2,000. That's in the realm of possibility."

-Skip-

And even if a forecast is off-base, there are few repercussions because they are almost always quickly forgotten. "The reason that people do these games is because no one's really tracking accuracy," said Mr. Lamont, who now works at DKR Capital, a hedge fund in Greenwich, Conn. "No one is carefully, prudently giving more business to the guy who is 2 percent more accurate than the next guy."

-Skip-

Still, forecasters who get too far ahead of themselves would do well to remember an instance of notoriously poor prognostication. One of the few times that a financial strategist has been widely taken to task came in 1999, when Kevin A. Hassett and James K. Glassman published "Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market."

-Skip-

Still, while the reputation of its authors may have taken a hit, "Dow 36,000" has not seemed to hurt their careers. Mr. Hassett, who did not respond to a reporter's inquiry, works at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington, and serves as the senior economic adviser to the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 04:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These days it seems that the first refuge of a scoundrel of the economist variety is a conservative "think tank."  Well, we knew they were in the tank for something.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 04:51:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scenes From the Global Class War

Scrawny Geese; No More Golden Egg

By MICHAEL HUDSON, CounterPunch, October 27, 2008

On Friday, October 24, the pound sterling dropped to just $1.58 (down from $1.73 earlier in the week, an enormous plunge by foreign-exchange standards), and the euro sunk to just $1.26, while Japan's yen soared by 10 per cent. These shifts threatened to disrupt export markets and hence industrial sales patterns. Global stock markets plunged from 5 to 9 per cent abroad, and there was talk of closing the New York market if stocks fell more than 1,000 points. Pre-opening trading saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average down the maximum limit of 550 points (largely on foreign selling) before bounding back to lose "only" 312 points as the dollar soared against European currencies.

Friday's currency turmoil and stock market plunge was a case of the chickens coming home to roost from the class-war policies being waged by European and Asian industry and banking squeezing their domestic consumer markets - that is, labor's living standards - in favor of export production to the United States. The internal contradiction in this industrial and financial class warfare is now clear: To the extent that it succeeds in depressing labor's income, it stifles the domestic consumer-goods market. This disrupts Say's Law - the principle that "production creates its own demand," based on the assumption that employees will (or must) be paid enough to buy what they produce.

This has not been true for many years in Europe and Asia. But production has been able to continue without faltering because of an international deus ex machina: consumer demand in the United States.

This is not to say that no class warfare is being fought in the United States. Indeed, living standards for most wage earners today are down from the "golden age" of the late 1970s. But the U.S. economy had its own financial deus ex machina to soften the blow: Alan Greenspan's asset-price inflation that flooded the banks with credit, which was lent out to homebuyers and stock market raiders. Rising home prices were applauded as "wealth creation" as if they were a pure asset, much like dividends suddenly being awarded to one's savings account. Homebuyers were encouraged to "cash out" on the rising "equity" margin, the (temporarily) rising market price of their homes over and above their (permanent) mortgage debt. So while most mortgage money was used to bid up the price of home ownership, about a quarter of new lending was reported to be spent on consumption goods. Credit card debt also soared. In the face of a paycheck squeeze, U.S. consumers were maintaining their living standards by running further and further into debt.

But once the housing bubble burst the game was up.

This is only the start of Hudson's trenchant analysis.  (You have to scroll down through the funding appeal to get to Hudson's article, if you can.)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:25:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's some very thought provoking paragraphs on the recent history of the Japanese economy and banking system.

Great find, thanks ARGeezer.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A taste of what was presented in "Dow: 36,000", in this Atlantic article by the authors (this is 1999, remember). The authors returned in 2002, to insist on their insight in the pages of the WSJ. In an article titled "Dow 36000 Revisited - Hey, be patient!", they claimed that they were still on target. And they went on damning the dastardly socialists like Krugman that were bent on class war and could not see the light of the Incredible Rising Market.

Speaking of really wild optimism, note that the authors of "Dow: 36,000" were at the conservative end of the bull-market visionary book-sellers crowd. Thus Dow:40,000 and Dow:100,000 (by 2020 no less).

Chiliasm, I think is the word to describe all this. Chiliastic numerology. And what else but a standard chiliastic cult's revelation-postponement (see here for similarly failed prophecy) is shown in this 2006 article, where the authors of both 36,000 and 100,000 remain confident in their predictions - its just that they were off a bit:

Glassman, 59, defends "Dow 36,000's" original premise as well. The prediction -- that the Dow would triple by 2005 -- is still valid, he says, although he's pushed the deadline out to 2021...

Glassman and Kadlec say their out-of-print books, offered for sale on Amazon.com for as little as one cent, are still relevant.

"Dow 36,000" held that stocks were safer than bonds over the long term. When investors recognized this, the Dow would triple in value, the authors wrote.

"There's nothing that's occurred over the past few years that's changed our minds about the original thesis," said Glassman, who writes a syndicated investing column and is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

(As a McCain advisor Hassett is shameless though, he has recently complained of voting fraud by the Democrats! Totally shameless.

-----

Speaking of failed prophesies however, my all time favorite and a book of historical significance, surely, is without a doubt, David Lereah's "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: The Boom Will Not Bust and Why Property Values Will Continue to Climb Through the End of the Decade - And How to Profit From Them (2005)".

This awesomely titled book is by the author of The Rules for Growing Rich : Making Money in the New Information Economy (2000), where he was plugging Internet stocks a few months before the dotcom crash. Undoubtedly this man is the epitome of timely financial advice. A true oracle of the New Gilded Age.

The optimism of the realtor was matched, according to Amazon (I assume it was a blurb?) by David Berson, Chief Economist at Fannie May who had this to say about the book: "An important book, whether you agree with the author (as I do) that housing will remain an excellent investment or are convinced that home prices are poised for a plunge, David Lereah lays out a compelling vision of housing as a continuing positive investment--and how you can profit from real estate if you already own the home you live in, are looking to move from rental housing to an owner-occupied home, or want to use real estate as an investment."

Note on the Amazon page for the Real Estate Rapture book, the number and ferocity of comments it has attracted, and especially this gem of a recommendation.

The author would wish he could change the title and that people would go beyond the title to the substance of the book:

"Obviously I would change the title," says David Lereah, the former chief economist of the National Association of Realtors and author of "Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust - And How You Can Profit From It," published in paperback in February 2006. "There are places in the book where I actually say the boom is not healthy. But people don't read the book, and they just look at the title and they criticize it."

I love this prophets of profits shred to bits thing though. So much so, that I think I might make a diary out of this comment :-)

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also amusing -

BBC NEWS | Business | Darling spending plan 'misguided'

The government's plan to spend its way out of the looming recession is "misguided and discredited", say leading economists.

Chancellor Alistair Darling wants to bring forward spending on key state-funded projects to kick-start economic recovery.

But a group of 16 economists say it risks damaging private sector recovery.

All very serious. And these clowns did such a good job of predicting the recent past that their credibility sails on, resolute and undented. Naturally.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:54:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Darling's cited critics are economists working for the financial disservice industry.  They don't want to see money spent on something useful if they can get it poured onto the bondfire that it their own industry.  It is not the government sector that has gotten too big, but rather it is the financial sector.  His critics don't care if the money is going up in smoke as long as they get their share in bonuses.  Let the large investors watch their wealth burn.  Might teach them instill some fear to temper their greed for returns.

The City and its financial services industry must be much like Wall Street in the US--a giant leech attached to the body politic.  Heat from the glowing embers of that sector will cause the leech to let go--eventually.  The question is how much public debt will have to be assumed before that happens.  Let all of these financial service firms die.  There is nothing that can be done to stop it.  The only question is how much of our wealth to put on the funeral pyre.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 11:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was watching a spokesperson from this particular group of propagandists on the BBC News channel yesterday. There message seemed could be distilled into three components:

  1. Interest rate cuts
  2. Tax Cuts - they did not specify for whom these tax cuts should be you can guess (I would guess that if we got the targets of these tax cuts wrong they would should "welfare" at the top of their lungs).
  3. If you must spend money then you should give the money to the private sector (give us your money). The usual bullshytt were given = governments can't spend money properly, we can - blah, blah, blah, blah).

The BBC guy gave him a hard time but an opposing view was not to be found. My guess is that this has less to do with the BBC's (or any other 24 hour news organisation) willingness to book somebody but that other orgs do not put people up to talk.  

Snippets of this interview were repeated constantly throughout the day.

Howard Dean said the first thing Democrats needed to do was turn up. He was right.


Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The right-wing tendencies of the British blogosphere are rather depressingly evident on this issue also.

1) There's a strong concentration on technicalities at the expense of the political message being pushed.

- For example a lot of concentration on the technical notions that a cut in low earner tax (e.g. a NI holiday) would feed into the economy quicker than infrastructure:

- No mention of the role of infrastructure contracts in slowing the collapse of construction employment.

- No mention that infrastructure spending provides more stimulus than tax cuts.

- No mention that in a highly indebted environment, low end tax cuts are as vulnerable as other money supply measures to "pushing on a string" problems.

2) Most of all however, no mention, as you note that they wouldn't actually be proposing a tax cut for the low end, let alone a tax cut for the low end only.

3) The allocative efficiency argument is so depressing, as we face a crisis built up out of the misallocation of resources by the market over a long period.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>The right-wing tendencies of the British blogosphere
There too?!  I am going to have to let my subscription to the Economist lapse.  I can no longer bring myself to read very much of it.  Obviously outrageous tendentious misrepresentations in too many articles.  In the rare instances where a Serious Person makes a sensible suggestion that has unfortunate consequences for the backers of their ideology, they will sieze upon some possible misinterpretation or manufacture some silly claim to which they then respond.  I see enough of that from the McCain Campaign.  The money spent on this subscription would buy us better quality toilet paper for a year.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:53:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I might make a diary out of this comment :-)

Yay!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment should be a diary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:54:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Done!

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:35:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we have an opportunity to come out as hopeful "glass half full" guys? Hey, Dow Jones is not the whole economy, and lack of money supply should not stop us from helping each other!
by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:29:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What stops us from helping each other is that the preponderance of "financial experts" can see no way forward other than trying to save their financial services industry--which is the problem to begin with. they are the priests of the economic order. The top executives in the financial services industry and the very wealthy individuals they serve are today's aristocrats.  Governments in the US, Britain, France and other countries serve this aristocracy.

In the French and Russian revolutions the priests and aristocrats who underpinned those orders were dealt with rather harshly if they did not succeed in fleeing.  We are just now at a stage where the problems posed by our equivalents of those priests and aristocrats, the neo-classical economists who brought us finance capitalism and the executives of the largest investment banks rating companies, insurance companies, etc., have just begun to be recognized.  Better worlds await, if we can only change the way we see things.  Yet the vast majority of the population still lives in superstitious dread of the supposedly awesome powers of these high priests of money.

We are not at a point where an alternative to neo-classical economics has seized the imagination of the majority of the population.  It is not a question of understanding, but rather of the effects of indoctrination wearing off.  Christopher Hill, writing about the English Revolution spoke of a "mindstop" that made it very difficult for most Englishmen to even conceive of deposing, let alone executing Charles I.  We are at such a point now.  Let us hope that it can be resolved better and with less social damage, death and suffering than accompanied the English, French and Russian Revolutions.

Anarchy or fascist distopia are the two walls of the abyss into which we do not want to descend.  In order to prevent such a descent, which would surely be accompanied by an environmental catastrophy, farsighted leaders with cool heads in which feasible alternatives can flourish must prevail.  We must abandon efforts to save the unsalvageable so that we can save what can be saved.  Trying to prop up the financial services industry is like the lifeboats  trying to tie lines onto the Titanic to keep it from sinking.  Continuing down that path will likely have similar results for us.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A rather calm revolution would be to diminish (or ignore) the value of existing financial assets, favours and obligations. That would eventually lead to alternative money...

Say, I am selling great pizzas, you are selling good shoes. We would gladly exchange the goods (with or without much mediation of money). But we are both in deep mortgage debt, and we cannot afford to buy each other's goods. Not only we can't buy or do much, we can't service a large portion of people just like us as well. Only those with good equity balance can buy at our shops - we are all doing best to service them. In effect, exclusively them. That's the barrier of money. It's very good to be on the wealthy side. If we would barter our goods, then... dunno... that would probably be very unfair to hard-working financial experts as we would get the same quality goods as only their money could buy. Escaping their network of rent and interest payment would be revolutionary indeed; wouldn't they have an excuse for forceful reaction?

by das monde on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:03:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde: That would eventually lead to alternative money...

It would be interesting if more LETS began appearing throughout the world as a result of this crisis.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:30:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been on the board of Letslink UK - which has kept the LETS flame burning in the UK for many years -for a while now, and it's only recently I've worked out why LETs don't scale.

LETS involve monetising credit (which is what Banks do as well), and rely upon trust. That's fine among communities where trust is normal, but once the "commercial" world is involved, trust goes out of the window.

As Comrade Stalin said:

"Trust: but Validate".

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:46:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My brother has a auto chassis and alignment shop in Tuscon, Az.  Does a lot of fleet work.  He does a very substantial amount of business on BX, or business exchange.  He accepts BX payment from many of the business accounts and is able to use that credit at participating hotels and restaurants, has bought used cars for his daughters on BX, etc.  All goods and services are denominated in dollars, but dollars never change hands.  It also works out to be favorable on the basis of taxation.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 01:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is where the solution lies.

B2B Barter systems like the WIR in Switzerland and proprietary systems such as Bartercard and BX all have credit built in, and where you have a barter system with in-built credit, then the result is a monetary system.

The reason for the pervasive (multi billion Swiss Franc) success of the WIR in Switzerland is that all members have to give a charge on their property to secure against defaults (ie non payment of debit balances).

ie the WIR is property-backed.

No one has yet managed to extend these B2B systems to customers as well (B2C).

But this will happen, and when a simple piece of software (a "transaction engine") does appear (there are several candidates) all that will be necessary for a complete credit solution is a mutual guarantee backed by provisions made into a mutually owned default fund.

At that point we will have created a "Clearing Union" (as advocated by Keynes) and banks as credit intermediaries will have become obsolete.

Of course, they could still have a role as service providers managing the process of credit creation; setting guarantee limits; managing defaults and so on...all without putting their capital at risk by creating credit based upon it...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:00:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I've divided the risk into little pieces."

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:14:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and spread it aaaallll around.  I think they call that metastasis.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
up, we've scattered the dust everywhere, doesn't the room look clean?

much better than when it was swept into a pile, right?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Further instability possible, Bank says

Britain's financial system faces the possibility of further instability, with the health of insurers and hedge funds among the current areas of concern, the Bank of England warned on Tuesday.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report, the Bank talked not only of significant risks remaining for the banking system - in spite of the £50bn bail-out that in recent weeks has shown signs of bringing some stability - but it also highlighted other potential worries.

Describing the instability in the global financial system as "the most severe in living memory", Sir John Gieve, deputy governor for financial stability, said: "With a global economic downturn under way, the financial system remains under strain."

Looking beyond the banks to other risks, the report said: "One risk is that leveraged investors, like hedge funds, may be forced to liquidate asset holdings due to tight credit conditions."

It added that hedge funds have recently faced "additional funding pressures due to redemption requests and a risk is that these could increase".



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:19:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cost of crash: $2,800,000,000,000 | Business | The Guardian

Autumn's market mayhem has left the world's financial institutions nursing losses of $2.8tn, the Bank of England said today, as it called for fundamental reform of the global banking system to prevent a repeat of turmoil "arguably" unprecedented since the outbreak of the first world war.

In its half-yearly health check of the City, the Bank said tougher regulation and constraints on lending would be needed as policymakers sought to learn lessons from the mistakes that have led to a systemic crisis unfolding over the past 15 months.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:21:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That money never existed except in the fevered imagination of accountants.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the general case, no money exists except in the feverish imaginations of accountants.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:25:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Torygraph Alert] : IMF may need to "print money" as crisis spreads (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)
The International Monetary Fund may soon lack the money to bail out an ever growing list of countries crumbling across Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia, raising concerns that it will have to tap taxpayers in Western countries for a capital infusion or resort to the nuclear option of printing its own money.

...

The IMF, led by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has the power to raise money on the capital markets by issuing `AAA' bonds under its own name. It has never resorted to this option, preferring to tap members states for deposits.

The nuclear option is to print money by issuing Special Drawing Rights, in effect acting as if it were the world's central bank. This was done briefly after the fall of the Soviet Union but has never been used as systematic tool of policy to head off a global financial crisis.

I have suggested the WTO might have to introduce World Bank Letters of Credit denominated in "Special Drawing Rights" if the collapse of interbank lending gums up international trade.

There has to be a first time for everything, but IMHO bailing out Western™ creditors is a bad use of the IMF's money. Funding trade guarantees is a better use of it.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 10:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:27:35 PM EST
Ex-leader uses blog to needle Malaysian government - International Herald Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR: In a vast office at the top of one of the world's tallest buildings, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sits at a broad, glass-topped desk, scribbling his thoughts on a pad of unlined paper.

For 22 years Mahathir was the most powerful person in this land, and his thoughts were commands as he reshaped the country in his own grand image.

But he has become an irritant and a spoiler five years after stepping down, turning against his handpicked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and he has fallen victim to the press controls he perfected as prime minister.

It is mainly a system of self-censorship in an atmosphere of pressure and intimidation that produces an obedient press and has seen the closure or banning of many publications.

"Where is the press freedom?" he exclaimed two years ago, apparently surprised to be suddenly ignored. "Broadcast what I have to say! What I say is not even accurately published in the press!"

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
China gets a jump on US in space - Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.
In late September, China's third manned space mission went off without a hitch. The Shenzhou-7 is now safely in orbit. Close by is the BX-1 "companion satellite" which was attached to Shenzhou-7 and later deployed via a simple spring mechanism. This satellite weighs between 30 and 40 kilograms, and it simply orbits around Shenzhou-7, sending back over a thousand images of Shenzhou-7 in the process.

While Western space experts may be divided over the exact purpose of the BX-1 mission, it is clear that China has every intention of driving its dynamic "dual use" space agenda as far as it will go. BX-1 could well be little more than a peaceful probe merely engaged in "close proximity" operations with cameras and transmission equipment aboard. Or it could be a prototype satellite attack dog, a space surveillance and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) platform with anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities, all rolled into a single menacing platform ready to pounce.

The ASAT dimension seems extremely far-fetched, and many experts dispel talk of it. Nevertheless, this potential ASAT angle surfaced quickly as the result of a close flyby involving Shenzhou-7, with BX-1 in tow, and the International Space Station (ISS).
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:32:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 10/26/2008 | U.S. threatens to halt services to Iraq without troop accord

BAGHDAD _ The U.S. military has warned Iraq that it will shut down military operations and other vital services throughout the country on Jan. 1 if the Iraqi government doesn't agree to a new agreement on the status of U.S. forces or a renewed United Nations mandate for the American mission in Iraq.

Many Iraqi politicians view the move as akin to political blackmail, a top Iraqi official told McClatchy Sunday.

In addition to halting all military actions, U.S. forces would cease activities that support Iraq's economy, educational sector and other areas _ "everything" _ said Tariq al Hashimi, the country's Sunni Muslim vice president. "I didn't know the Americans are rendering such wide-scale services."

Hashimi said that Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, listed "tens" of areas of potential cutoffs in a three-page letter, and he said the implied threat caught Iraqi leaders by surprise.

"It was really shocking for us," he said. "Many people are looking to this attitude as a matter of blackmailing."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're shocked? Where have you been in the past six years, sleeping under a rock?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:44:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq being what it is, that's probably not the worst place to bunk down...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:08:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. takes to air to hit militants inside Pakistan - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: The White House has backed away from using American commandos for further ground raids into Pakistan after furious complaints from its government, relying instead on an intensifying campaign of airstrikes by the Central Intelligence Agency against militants in the Pakistani mountains.

According to American and Pakistani officials, attacks by remotely piloted Predator aircraft have increased sharply in frequency and scope in the past three months.

Through Sunday, there were at least 18 Predator strikes since the beginning of August, some deep inside Pakistan's tribal areas, compared with 5 strikes during the first seven months of 2008.

At the same time, however, officials said that relying on airstrikes alone, the United States would be unable to weaken Al Qaeda's grip in the tribal areas permanently. Within the government, advocates of the ground raids have argued that only by sending Special Operations forces into Pakistan can the United States successfully capture suspected operatives and interrogate them for information about top Qaeda leaders.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steinmeier to Visit Pakistan for Talks on Afghanistan | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier heads to Pakistan Monday for talks expected to focus on the worsening conflict in Afghanistan and the financial crisis, the German government said.

Steinmeier will meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said at a news conference.

 

After Pakistan, Steinmeier, who is set to challenge Angela Merkel in elections next September as the Social Democratic candidate for the chancellery, will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Peschke said.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:34:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Expert Warns Against Putting Climate Fight on the Back Burner | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
Problems caused by climate change are more serious than the current financial crisis. That warning by a leading economist came as German scientists weighed in with their own grim predictions about rising sea levels.

It would be a big mistake for leaders to ignore climate change during the financial crisis, said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.

"That's a very important lesson, tackle risk early," Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong.

There have been worries that countries will be unwilling to commit to climate change goals at an international meeting scheduled in Copenhagen at the end of next year. Stern said he was optimistic that countries would agree to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:36:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russians Prefer the More "Approachable" Obama | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
Both John McCain and Barack Obama have been critical of Russia, particularly in light of the Georgian crisis. But Moscow favors the young Democrat over the Cold War veteran.

John McCain's US presidential campaign begged at the enemy's door this week when a wayward fundraising letter reached the desk of Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin in New York asking for a donation.

 

The Russians wouldn't spare a ruble for the Republican, and sent McCain a sardonic message saying that, unlike the United States, the Russian government does "not finance political activity in foreign countries." US laws would have prevented them from donating had they wanted to send McCain a check.

 

Russian officials, in fact, aren't banking on either McCain or Democratic candidate Barack Obama mending relations upturned by Russia's recent war with US-ally Georgia.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:37:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UN compound pelted as thousands flee fighting in Congo - International Herald Tribune

NAIROBI: Hundreds of furious protesters hurled rocks at a United Nations compound in eastern Congo on Monday in frustration that peacekeepers have not halted the rebel advance that is sweeping the countryside.

The rebels are now in control of several major towns and the headquarters of a national park where endangered mountain gorillas live in the middle of a shrinking ring of safety.

Jaya Murthy, a spokesman for Unicef in the eastern Congo city of Goma, said heavy fighting was raging in several areas between government troops and rebel forces under the command of Laurent Nkunda, a renegade general who says he is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsis.

Murthy said that the conflict was spawning a vast wave of internally displaced people, with tens of thousands fleeing battle zones, often for the second or third time in recent months. As many as 250,000 people have been driven from their homes since the fighting between the rebels and government forces intensified in August.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also from that article:

Congo Rebels Advance; Protesters Hurl Rocks at U.N. Compound - NYTimes.com

The general who resigned, Lt. Gen. Vicente Díaz de Villegas y Herrería, was officially appointed just seven weeks ago to lead the United Nations' Congo mission and had been in the country for only three weeks.

The announcement in New York that he was stepping down, from the spokeswoman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said only that General Díaz was leaving for "personal reasons."

But some United Nations officials described his oral resignation as an emotional one. Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose details of the resignation, said he had criticized the lack of a coherent strategy, the lack of a mandate and the lack of resources needed to get the peacekeeping job done.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:13:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Syria hits out at 'terrorist' US

Syria's foreign minister has accused the US of an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression" over what it says was a helicopter raid on its territory.

Walid Muallem said Sunday's attack saw four US aircraft travel eight miles inside Syrian airspace from Iraq and kill eight unarmed civilians on a farm.

He said those who died were a father and his three children, a farm guard and his wife, and a fisherman.

The US has not confirmed or denied the alleged raid.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian minister warns US after raid - Middle East, World - The Independent

A US military raid inside Syria was an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression", Syria's foreign minister said today

Speaking at a news conference in London, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned of retaliation if Syria's borders were violated again.

He said Syria "would defend our territories" if there were a repeat of the weekend raid.

The US military said it was targeting the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria to help fight in Iraq. Syria said troops in four helicopters attacked a building and killed eight people, including four children.

"They know full well that we stand against al-Qa'ida," Mr al-Moallem said. "They know full well we are trying to tighten our border with Iraq."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:43:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US admits raiding Syria to kill terrorist leader - Middle East, World - The Independent

Senior US officials claimed last night that the head of a Syrian network responsible for smuggling foreign fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq had been killed in Syria during a raid by US special forces that sparked strong condemnation from Damascus.

The Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem said the raid had killed eight civilians and was an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression." Speaking at a news conference in London, he warned that Damascus would defend itself against any such future attack.

Sunday's raid, 10km from the Iraqi border, took place in daylight and therefore was "not a mistake," he said.

The rare attack into Syria marks an unexpected expansion of the war in Iraq and comes as the level of fighting drops to its lowest level for four years.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:07:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if this umpteenth illegal attack on sovereign territory had anything to do with elections.

Also, at a time (up until the first year of the US invasion of Afghanistan, I think) I believed special operations commandos would be a more targeted way to fight war than bombing the hell out of a country. But the Iraq war at the latest taught me that commandos have a tendency to shoot everyone and ask questions later, especially when getting the wrong guys.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:39:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't much of an October surprise, as these things go.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:26:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview with Neoconservative Scholar Robert Kagan: 'America Remains Number One' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

In an interview with SPIEGEL, American neoconservative scholar and McCain adviser Robert Kagan speaks about the legacy of the Bush-Cheney years, America's future position atop a "League of Democracies" and how China and Russia will push Europe back into America's arms.

SPIEGEL: Dr. Kagan, many intellectual forerunners and former friends of the president are now distancing themselves from him, and some are even attacking him as a failure. You are missing from the list of neoconservatives performing a mea culpa. Have you never given George W. Bush advice that you regret?

 Kagan: "America remains number one, even though other, new players are increasingly challenging it in that role." Robert Kagan: Well, I mostly regret the advice not taken, not advice that I have given. But I can already tell what's next: the Iraq war...

SPIEGEL: ...and you were undoubtedly one of its intellectual fathers. You spoke of "regime change" early on and of the need to forcefully remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Kagan: I was hardly alone. So did the Clinton administration and a majority of the US Senate. I believe that military intervention to bring down a foreign government should be the exception. But, in the case of Saddam, who was pursuing an aggressive foreign policy and was threatening his neighbors, even the rest of the world, I thought it was necessary. I can't believe that people think that we would be better off if that inhuman dictator were still in power.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Scholar". A think-tank guy and pundit. LOL...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:32:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rwandans Say Adieu to Français - washingtonpost.com

KIGALI, Rwanda -- C'est la vie.

In another blow to the language of love, the Rwandan government has decided to change instruction in schools from French to English.

All government employees are now required to learn English, and everyone here from lawmakers to taxi drivers to students to businesspeople seems to believe that the usefulness of French, introduced by Belgian colonizers, is coming to an end.

[...]

Rwanda has accused the French of arming the former Rwandan army and ethnic Hutu militias, even as they carried out the 1994 genocide. About 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days of planned, systematic violence.

The Rwandan government recently accused 33 senior French military and political officials of direct involvement in the genocide, demanding that they stand trial. Among those implicated is François Mitterand, president of France at the time of the genocide and now deceased.

French officials have denied responsibility, conceding only that "political" errors were made. In 2006, a French judge accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebel group that eventually stopped the genocide, of being involved in the downing of a plane carrying his predecessor, President Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death in April 1994 gave Hutu leaders the pretext to begin the genocide.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sources: Sarkozy views Obama stance on Iran as 'utterly immature' | Ha'aretz | 28.10.08
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is very critical of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's positions on Iran, according to reports that have reached Israel's government.

Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate's stance on Iran as "utterly immature" and comprised of "formulations empty of all content."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet another endorsement for Obama!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if he says "Go right", you know that the correct choice for "the rest of us" is go left.  Sarco ... the reverse compass.  How useful!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dalai Lama calls special meeting of Tibetan exiles | A.P. via Yahoo:
The Dalai Lama has called a special meeting of Tibetan exiles to discuss the future of their struggle as talks with China have foundered, officials said Tuesday.

The unusual meeting comes after the Dalai Lama told Tibetans on Saturday that he has given up on efforts to persuade Beijing to allow greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule and he would now ask the Tibetan people to decide how to move forward.

The five-day meeting, scheduled for mid-November, will be attended by representatives of all the Tibetan exile communities and political organizations, said Karma Choephal, speaker of the self-declared Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

The meeting could mark a significant shift in the Tibetan strategy for confronting China, long dominated by the Dalai Lama's "middle way," which rejected calls for outright independence but argued that greater autonomy was needed to preserve Tibet's unique Buddhist culture.

"Anything can come up in the meeting," Choephal told The Associated Press. "The outcome of the meeting will have a democratic and moral bearing on the future thinking of the Tibetan leadership."



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If China were the US they would bomb the meeting with cruise missiles.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:49:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru: If China were the US they would bomb the meeting with cruise missiles.

With just the minor replacement of 'cruise' with 'drone', I believe -- if we take him at his word -- even a President Obama would indeed do that, if we take him at his word.

However, I would hope that he did so with some pre-established understanding with Pakistan's government.  (And my impression is that such an understanding between the U.S. and Pakistan already exists.)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:18:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With just the minor replacement of 'cruise' with 'drone', I believe

Sorry, I'm 10 years out of date, clearly.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Write down everything that Obama says, promises, etc. and then burn the paper, throw away the disc, etc.  Absolutely meaningless drivel.  

List of obvious stuff.

  1. Obama is a black man.

  2. American is an ignorant racist country.

  3. The obvious economic demise of the US is countering the racist effect.

  4. Obama is a politician; ergo, he will say/promise ANYTHING to get elected.

  5.  Obama needs to say things, ANYTHING to get a whole bunch of racist hicks to vote for him, in both the domestic area and in foreign affairs.

  6.  Once Obama passes the Electoral College bar, THEN we will see where Obama stands on EVERYTHING.  All the stuff you've read/seen so far ... windowdressing.


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:30:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What would call a system of government that required a candidate to hide their true beliefs and intentions to get elected? "Democracy" doesn't seem to fit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
people than myself.  Anybody else want to comment or disagree with my assessment?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in his principles and vision, and even if he changed the the means and details of how to get there, he would fight as hard as he could to stick to the core of what he promised.

Having said that, I don't think he will be elected.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given all of the polls only 1 week before the election, you still think that McCain will pull it out.  WOW!

If that happens, holy moly!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Drew!  Paging Drew!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:08:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
on November 3, 2004.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:09:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One week from now, the airwaves will be all abuzz with the election returns.  I'm an MSNBC junkie.  Europe is 8 hours latter than CA so that has to be considered.

But, a week from today, assuming I don't have tutoring the next day, I'll break out the good stuff and toast the "Santa Claus" revival in your name. Want to come along?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:22:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But only 6 hours later than NC, and the polls close there at 6pm. If exit polls show a clear lead for Obama, it's over...

Europe, BTW, is 9 hours later than CA. You're confusing England with Europe.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:29:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since I'm dealing with Europe, how many time zones am I dealing with, with Europe?  Where does England's time zone fit in with things?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:36:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of Europe is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern U.S. (to be really pedantic, will be when the U.S. goes on daylight saving time). The U.K, Ireland, and Portugal are only 5 hours ahead (not Spain, despite being mostly west of the U.K.). The countries east of Poland, as well as Greece and Finland, are 7 hours ahead.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:42:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll bear that in mind from now on.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
check this out.

Got the embed to work.  Cool!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 08:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Obama is a politician; ergo, he will say/promise ANYTHING to get elected.

Oh dear, political cartoon level cynicism again :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 10:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but I typed it while I was smiling and in my underwear so it's valid.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 11:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to a recent analysis by Minqi Li, economics professor at the University of Utah, the world economy must contract at a historically rapid clip -- at an annual rate of about -1 to -3.4 percent between now and 2050 -- if atmospheric carbon dioxide is to be held below 445 parts per million (ppm). That is the level at which we could run into a nightmare scenario in which warming could start feeding on itself in positive-feedback loops and lead to who knows what. Much deeper cuts are needed to get down to 350 ppm, at which the planet will remain in a familiar and comfortable condition.

The -1 to -3.4 percent economic reductions required just to reach the more modest goal of 445 ppm were computed by assuming a wide range of scenarios. That range in negative-growth estimates covers a range of scenarios going from dramatic to modest improvements in energy efficiency and alternative technologies. But in all scenarios, however rosy their assumptions, economic growth will have to be thrown into reverse or else. Everything depends on how that economic contraction is handled.

The US economy declined by about 55 percent in just four years at the start of the Great Depression, with the well-known catastrophic outcomes. At the -2 percent annual rate of contraction required by Professor Li's "medium-green" scenarios, economies would eventually shrink by an amount close to that Depression-era 55 percent, but over a period of more than 40 years, not four.

Interesting stuff. Red, raw meat for the scoffers, since James Lovelock is mentioned.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:47:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, the title alone would cause hydrophobic emissions on the other side of the Atlantic --
Climate Change, Limits to Growth, and the Imperative for Socialism
Minqi Li


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China says hostages died during failed rescue - Yahoo! News

Five Chinese oil workers kidnapped in Sudan died during a botched rescue attempt, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

China was involved in the rescue effort led by Sudan, ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. She confirmed that two other workers had been rescued and two more remained in captivity. <...>

Rebels have previously warned Chinese and other oil firms to leave the country, saying their operations help support the government in Khartoum. <...>

Sudan's government has blamed rebels from Darfur for kidnapping the Chinese, but on Monday a spokesman for the rebels denied involvement. The Chinese were snatched on Oct 18 while traveling near an oil field in the southwestern region of Kordofan.

It was the third attack on Chinese targets in the last 12 months.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is tinfoil hat territory but are we seeing the development of cold war style proxy fighting between a US influenced rebel group and a Chinese influenced government in Sudan?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:08:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese are not stupid enough to provoke a mentally unstable armed thug.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But is Cheney stupid enough to try and provoke the Chinese?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point.  But no, I don't think Cheney is that stupid, or even that crazy.  I think Occam's razor clearly points to stupid/crazy/desperate/pissed off people far far lower on the power pyramid.  People like two guys who were just arrested for plotting mayhem and assassinating Obama, or moving up a little higher on the pyramid, like the Taliban wannabes who kidnapped 2 Chinese engineers in Pakistan, or the gangsters who kidnapped a Pakistani oil worker in Somalia.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 10:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just what the US needs along with the current fiscal crisis.  Piss the Chinese off.  It does sound stupid enough for the Bush/Cheney team.  What next?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:28:40 PM EST
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Dog risks life for kittens

A dog has risked its life to protect four kittens trapped in a house fire in Melbourne, Australia.

Firefighters found Leo guarding the kittens which were in a cardboard box in one of the bedrooms.

When the fire broke out inside the house, the family of four plus their other dog managed to escape.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:29:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Man's arm trapped in train toilet

A passenger on a French train had to be rescued by firemen after having his arm sucked down the on-board toilet.

The 26-year-old victim was trapped when he tried to fish out his mobile phone, which had fallen into the toilet bowl, and fell foul of the suction system.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One doesn't think of the danger when... Well, I'll keep out of such places in future.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:09:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the article fails to answer the most important question: Did he succeed in retrieving the mobile phone?
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and did it still work?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He probably used it to call for help.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 05:19:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A French family dynasty reinvents the oyster - International Herald Tribune

A member of the fourth generation of a family of oyster farmers, Thierry, 37, has brought an economics education to what has become the most famous name in oysters: Gillardeau.

The family's small private company, founded 110 years ago here by the sea near La Rochelle and the Île d'Oléron in western France, produces only "spéciales," oysters that are fleshier and, consequently, more expensive than the standard. The Gillardeau name has become associated with fine oysters, rather like Hermès for neckties.

Thierry's father, Gérard Gillardeau, 61, took over the business from his father, Jean, who ran it after his father, Henri, who began as an illiterate farmhand before turning his hand to oysters. Oyster farming then dominated the economy of the region, where the Charente and Seudre Rivers add their fresh water to the salt flats and estuaries.

Henri did well enough to build a large house opposite City Hall in this village of 3,500 people, a house he called "Ça m'suffit," or "That'll do." Thierry and Véronique live there today with their two children.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Man's arm trapped in train toilet

A passenger on a French train had to be rescued by firemen after having his arm sucked down the on-board toilet.

The 26-year-old victim was trapped when he tried to fish out his mobile phone, which had fallen into the toilet bowl, and fell foul of the suction system.

The high-speed TGV train had to stop for two hours while firemen cut through the train's pipework.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:41:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More People Appear to Be Cheating on Their Spouses, Studies Find - NYTimes.com

Theories vary about why more people appear to be cheating. Among older people, a host of newer drugs and treatments are making it easier to be sexual, and in some cases unfaithful -- Viagra and other remedies for erectile dysfunction, estrogen and testosterone supplements to maintain women's sex drive and vaginal health, even advances like better hip replacements.

"They've got the physical health to express their sexuality into old age," said Helen E. Fisher, research professor of anthropology at Rutgers and the author of several books on the biological and evolutionary basis of love and sex.

In younger couples, the increasing availability of pornography on the Internet, which has been shown to affect sexual attitudes and perceptions of "normal" behavior, may be playing a role in rising infidelity.

But it is the apparent change in women's fidelity that has sparked the most interest among relationship researchers. <...>

Dr. Fisher notes that infidelity is common across cultures, and that in hunting and gathering societies, there is no evidence that women are any less adulterous than men. The fidelity gap may be explained more by cultural pressures than any real difference in sex drives between men and women. ...



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:29:02 PM EST
Make-under for glitzy French TV news anchor Laurence Ferrari - Times Online

Laurence Ferrari was hailed as the most glamorous presenter when she took over as anchor on the main French evening news this summer -- an observation that has proved to be her undoing.

Her blonde hair, glossy lipstick and youthful smile were blamed for driving away viewers, particularly the over-60s, forcing the TF1 channel to order an overhaul of her look in an attempt to halt a drop in ratings.

Ferrari was told to change her haircut, make-up and clothes to appear less sexy and closer to her age -- 42. Her tight white jumpers have been replaced by dark waistcoats; her hair now hangs soberly over her ears, her lipstick is softer and lines can be seen around her eyes and mouth.

Supporters of Ferrari said that she was a victim of prejudice against blondes and that she had given the news a more serious tone. Her glitzy image was an obstacle to her efforts to move the programme upmarket, however. Le Point, a weekly news magazine, said that TF1 executives had now decided that "Laurence Ferrari must become older, be transformed from the glamorous, young newcomer into a well-behaved, upper-class woman".

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries